Next: More of Julia: Up: A prototypical agent: Previous: Introduction
So what does Julia do? I'll demonstrate, by example. A player would gain access to her numerous talents in exactly the same way that a player would talk to any other player-by either speaking or gesturing in the same room, or by paging from somewhere else:
>page julia You sent your summons to Julia. Julia pages from Stevi's Kitchen: `I'm on my way to you, Lenny.' Julia is briefly visible through the mist. Julia says, `I was called here by Lenny.' You say, `julia?' Julia says, `Yes?' You say, `julia?' Julia nods to Lenny. [ . . . ] Julia whispers, `Excuse me, Xerxes is paging me from Connie's place.' Julia walks south to the airship landing field. Julia has left.
This is a continuing thread in my discussion of Julia: players interact with her as if she was another player. Muds blur the distinction between players and 'bots (mud slang for a robot-since a mud simulates a reality, a software-only construct can be as `real' and physical as anything else, hence even a piece of software with no hardware attached `in the real world' can be a `robot' in the simulated world). This is a great strength of both muds and Julia, and the deliberate blurriness of the boundaries both enhances Julia's effectiveness and makes her operation possible.
One of Julia's most useful talents is to keep maps of the interconnections between rooms. (Note that if multiple copies of Julia are running on some workstation(s) at Pittsburgh, each one connected to a different mud, these separate copies of the same code would contain separate databases. Thus, rooms, players, and all the other information that makes a mud unique from all its brethren will not be confused across multiple instantiations of the same code.)
The way to get Julia to help you navigate is to ask her a question, as usual.
You say, `julia, how do I get to electronics den?' Julia says, `From here, go south, 7, airlock, 9, up, down' Minotaur says, `Julia, how do you get to the gold sector?' Julia says, `From here, go highport, gold, library'
Since Julia keeps track of various statistics about rooms (rooms being very important objects in any mud), she can answer certain questions that might be important to a mudder:
You say, `julia, what are the noisiest rooms?' Julia says, `The 10 noisiest rooms are:' Julia | Connie's place averages 613.95 messages per hour Julia | Bedroom averages 483.58 messages per hour Julia | oops! SNAFU lounge averages 472.18 messages per hour Julia | (> The Hearts Room! averages 416.70 messages per hour Julia | Veritech Launch Bay averages 399.12 messages per hour Julia | West Corner of the Park averages 397.26 messages per hour Julia | Sickbay averages 366.90 messages per hour Julia | Inter Temporal Chat Lounge averages 337.66 messages per hour Julia | kitchen averages 326.75 messages per hour Julia | US Robots averages 315.99 messages per hour You say, `where can we go from here?' Julia says, `Here are the 13 exits for Kingdom Highport: Customs, Lenny:' Julia <highport> goes to Kingdom Highport: Hub. Julia <earth> goes to Kingdom Highport: Ticket Counters. Julia <south> goes to Kingdom Highport: South Concourse. Julia <hub> goes to Kingdom Highport: Hub. Julia <s> goes to Kingdom Highport: South Concourse. Julia <back> goes to The Inter Nexus. Julia <kingdom> goes to Kingdom Highport: Hub. Julia <station> goes to Kingdom Highport: Hub. Julia <port> goes to Kingdom Highport: Hub. Julia <out> goes to The Inter Nexus. Julia <up> goes to Kingdom Highport: Hub. Julia <d> goes to Kingdom Highport: Ticket Counters. Julia <down> goes to Kingdom Highport: Ticket Counters. Julia done.
In fact, her navigational skills can be helpful if you're bored, or confused...
TheHighMage says, `Julia, I'm bored. Where should I go?' Julia says, `You should go see gilded door, TheHighMage.' Julia says, `From here, go present, out, north, n, w, n, up, up, 7, up, up, s.' You whisper, `Where should I go?' to Julia. Julia whispers, `Hmm...you should visit WNDU Main Control Room, Lenny.' Julia whispers, `From here, go present, out, north, n, n, n, n, n, e, in, in, in, east, in.'
(Note also that Julia will whisper to you if you whisper to her, hence protecting your privacy if there was some reason you whispered. She also tends not to respond to random conversation or gestures unless they mention her name; unless they are from a player who was talking to her very recently; or unless she was the target of a directed communication such as a page or a whisper: this helps to prevent her from becoming a pest. Most 'bots need similar social skills or they quickly get relegated to the scrapheap. Human players without such skills are not so easy to get rid of.)
Many muds employ an artifact called money. (There are even some muds which are set up to explore alternate economic systems, but I won't touch on them here.) For muds which are essentially roleplaying games, the value of money is obvious. But why would a mud such as Time Traveller or DruidMUCK employ money, when there is no RPG system around?
To keep the load on the server reasonable, that's why. In general, the load on any mud server grows without bound, if the mud is popular. More players connect, and the server starts to lag, or get slow, as it handles the increasing number of events per second. This problem tends to correct itself, however, as a very lagged server will tend to lose players to other servers. (Lag is psychologically objectionable if it is too large, and the large number of extant servers mean that there is something of a freeware-based economy happening-lagged servers, unless they offer some spectacular value in community or resources [e.g., LambdaMOO] tend to be passed over for others. This is the same principle that tends to even out queues in a bank or supermarket.)
However, there is a server resource that is not self-correcting, and that is database size. Every time a player builds an object, the database must contain it. Left totally unrestricted, players would eventually outbuild any disk capacity allocated to the database. (This unrestricted growth has in fact been the downfall of some muds whose servers were running on machines that had more `legitimate' user populations who resented the competition for disk space or CPU cycles.)
Certain types of muds, such as MOOs, use a quota system to restrict building. Players may build only so many objects, and must then appeal to some human (a wizard) to get more quota. If the wizard deems the already-built objects uninteresting uses of resources, the player cannot build any more.
TinyMUDs, on the other hand, use money. Building something takes money. Players can give each other money, and money is often `found' lying around at some constant rate (which can be adjusted by the wizards). The rate at which money enters the economy in effect determines its rate of inflation, and thus how fast the database may grow.
In her wanderings around the maze, Julia finds a great deal of money. She can be quite a bit of help to a new player with few resources:
You say, `julia, can you give me some money?' Julia says, `Sorry, you're too new. Wait an hour and ask again.' You say, `julia, how much money do you have?' Julia says, `I have enough pennies' [ . . . ] You say, `julia, can you give me money?' Julia gives you 22 pennies. You say, `thanks, julia!' Julia says, `You're welcome, Lenny.' Brandi says, `she gives you more if you put please in the sentence.'
Julia is also a consumer of money, but in a slightly different way than building. She keeps a stock of interesting quotes gleaned via a much older program called Gloria. The quotes originally came mostly from .plan files (or the moral equivalent on non-UNIX systems) which belonged to users who tended to put interesting or funny snippets in them. Julia doles these out, but charges money to keep a person or a program from simply dumping the entire database in one swell foop:
give julia=1 You give 1 penny to Julia. Julia says, `Thank you for buying a quote.' Julia | Julia |Another Great Moment in Criticism: Julia | Julia |`I think Harvard has gathered all the wisest people in the Julia |kingdom to admire the emperor's new clothes.' Julia | Julia |--Doris Mathieson on the Harvard-Atari conference `Video Games and Julia |Human Development: A research agenda for the 80's' Julia | Julia |**==> That was a classic plan from Bob Chansler's plan file. give julia=1 Julia says, `Thank you for buying a quote.' Julia | Julia |`I'm going to Pittsburgh to get a PhD. You wait here.' Julia | Julia |--Larry Matthies Julia | Julia |**==> That was a classic plan from Anthony Stentz's plan file.
Someone who has never interacted with Julia before might be a trifle confused about what to say to her. A standard conversational gambit yields some useful information, as well as some dirt on other players:
You say, `hi, julia. what do you do?' Julia says, `I gossip, Lenny.' You whisper, `julia, tell me some gossip.' to Julia. Julia whispers, `I once heard baba says, 'Drop kick me Jesus Through the goal posts of life'' Conundrum says, `Julia, quote Tristor' Julia says, `I once heard tristor says, 'well, not in the FLESH, but I am here. :)'' Teri says, `julia quote me' Julia says, `I once heard You say, 'why forlorn'' Perdita says, `Julia, Quote TheHighMage' Julia says, `I once heard thehighmage says, 'Hmmmmm... Where are you all going when Time falls''
She is also useful for obtaining certain information that might be hard or impossible to get through the standard tools available. For example, while MOOs generally keep track of when players were around (the @lastlog command), TinyMUCKs generally don't. But Julia does, if she happens to run into the player while they were around, or notices them anytime she scans the wholist:
You say, `julia, where is leira?' Julia says, `Leira was in Inter Temporal Chat Lounge about 6 weeks ago.' You say, `julia, when did you last see julia?' Julia says, `I'm right here in The Inter Nexus.'
Note also that Julia `understands' who she is, and the fact that she is situated.
She knows about more than rooms, being able to describe players:
You say, `julia, who is leira' Julia whispers, `As of 6 weeks ago, leira's description was: Leira isn't a redhead, but she plays one on TT.' Julia whispers, `leira's Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org' Julia whispers, `I first saw leira logged in 1 year and 10 weeks ago' Julia whispers, `I once heard leira says, 'Julia, who wrote you'' Julia whispers, `leira last gave me money 7 weeks ago, and has given me a total of 10 pennies.' You whisper, `describe pattie' to Julia. Julia whispers, `I first saw pattie logged in 1 day ago' Julia whispers, `I once heard pattie says, 'Do you play Hockey, Julia'' Julia whispers, `pattie last gave me money 1 day ago, and had the generosity to give me 1 whole penny.' Julia whispers, `I don't really know who pattie is.'
...and her surroundings:
You whisper, `where are we?' to Julia. Julia whispers, `We are in 'The Inter Nexus`' You whisper, `who is here?' to Julia. Julia whispers, `Well Lenny, I see 8 players awake here: guest byte MadraRua Leda Lenny Mandi TheHighMage Samuel' You whisper, `who is asleep here?' to Julia. Julia whispers, `Well Lenny, I see 1 player asleep here: Jacques' You whisper, `describe this place' to Julia. Julia whispers, `Here's what I know about (> The Hearts Room!, as of a few minutes ago, Lenny:' Julia whispers, `description: (> The room glows brightly and welcomes you!' Julia whispers, `contents: (> Type `help hearts' for the rules., (> Set yourself _hearts_ok:yes to be summoned when there is a game starting., (> Type `push button' to summon other players.' You whisper, `describe here, in detail' to Julia. Julia whispers, `Here's what I know about (> The Hearts Room!, as of a few minutes ago, Lenny:' Julia whispers, `description: (> The room glows brightly and welcomes you!' Julia whispers, `contents: (> Type `help hearts' for the rules., (> Set yourself _hearts_ok:yes to be summoned when there is a game starting., (> Type `push button' to summon other players.' Julia whispers, `Julia number is 26809' Julia whispers, `first saw on Jul 9 03:09:59 1992' Julia whispers, `last seen on Oct 17 13:22:01 1992' Julia whispers, `Julia total time in 5 days' Julia whispers, `Julia visits 1554' Julia whispers, `Julia awake 1945' Julia whispers, `Julia sleep 635' Julia whispers, `Julia msgs 49950 (8 to me, today)' Julia whispers, `(> The Hearts Room! is a private room'
Note in the above that Julia is not always so human-appearing as she might be. I'll have more to say about that when I talk about her Turing-test mode later. (You might also note the peculiar (> symbols in the above; those are actually a part of the textual description of the room, for whatever reason.)
Many MUDs don't really have a mail system. This makes it hard to communicate with people who don't happen to be connected when you are. Julia solves this problem:
You say, `julia, what can you do?' Julia says, `I relay messages, Lenny.' You say, `do you have a message for me, julia?' Julia says, `I have no messages for you.' You say, `julia, tell leira I've figured out how to find and talk to Julia' Julia says, `Message for Leira saved.' You say, `julia, how many messages are you carrying?' Julia says, `I am holding 144 messages for 98 players, Lenny.'
Julia regularly scans the wholist, the list of all connected players. If she sees someone connect for whom she has a message, she will generally walk into the room that they are in and then deliver the message. Sometimes, she's more direct:
>page Julia=Julia, please tell Lenny that he can talk to himself through you. Your message has been sent. Julia pages from The Bar: `Message for Lenny saved.' [ . . . a few dozen seconds pass . . . ] Julia pages from The Kitchen: `less than a minute ago, Lenny said 'Julia, please tell Lenny that he can talk to himself through you''
(She'll never teleport into a room to deliver a message (or for any other reason, actually), since she generally knows how to walk anywhere, and walking gives her better feedback that the maze is as her mapper mapped it the first time. So that she doesn't spam the server, she waits a second or two between movements. One can watch her walk around the maze, or come to you when paged, on those muds that show player locations in their wholists.)
Julia can describe the more global environment as well as the strictly local descriptions above:
You say, `julia, how many messages are you carrying?' Julia says, `I am holding 144 messages for 98 players, Lenny.' You say, `julia, how many players are there?' Julia says, `I have seen at least 2688 different names on the WHO list' You say, `julia, how many rooms are there?' Julia says, `I have been to 1605 rooms altogether, here are the last few: Dark Room, Roland's bedroom, Room of Lamentation, Room of Exaltation, Top of Stairs, Entertainment Room, Roland's Control Room, penthouse, Electronics Den, Kadi's Korner.'
She has other interesting talents, including being able to do a fair job of guessing the genders of other players based on their names:
You say, `julia, what sex am i?' Julia says, `I guess that you are male, Lenny.' You say, `julia, what sex is phi?' Julia says, `I guess that phi is male, Lenny.' You say, `julia, what sex is leira?' Julia says, `I guess that leira is female, Lenny.' You say, `julia, what sex is robyn?' Julia says, `I think that robyn is female, Lenny.' You say, `julia, what sex is pattie?' Julia says, `I guess that pattie is female, Lenny.'
Note that neither Robyn nor Pattie were familiar enough with muds at this time to have set their gender property (useful so that people who look at you know what gender you claim to be, and so that programs that must do pronoun substitution can make the right decisions), so Julia was forced to guess entirely from their names.
Her ability to quote others makes her useful for conducting a Delphi poll the about a particular subject, if you're lucky, as Robyn was below:
Robyn says, `julia, what is a good computer' Julia says, `I don't know about a good computer, but I once heard TheHighMage say, 'julia, this is the definition of a good computer: the good computer is the one that you do your best work on and that you enjoy using the most', Robyn.'
She also has more prosaic calculating abilities:
You whisper, `what is 6 times 7?' to Julia. Julia whispers, `I think it's 42, Lenny.' You whisper, `what is 5 divided by 6?' to Julia. Julia whispers, `I think it's 0.833, Lenny.' You whisper, `what is 2147483648 plus 2147483648?' to Julia. Julia whispers, `I think it's 0, Lenny.'
... although note from the last example above that Julia does her arithmetic mod 2[tex2html_wrap158], two's-complement, and hence is using 32-bit signed arithmetic on her host machine. She apparently does not deliberately screw up her arithmetic to emulate a human more closely.
Next: More of Julia: Up: A prototypical agent: Previous: Introduction